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Celebrating Pride Month: How Dentistry Embraced the LGBTQIA Community

Every year, during Pride Month in June, the LGBTQIA community celebrates the work that has been done over decades to achieve justice and equal opportunities.


Every year, during Pride Month in June, the LGBTQIA community celebrates the work that has been done over decades to achieve justice and equal opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and agender Americans. As our country becomes more accepting of diversity, it is important to remember and reflect upon the fact that this has not always been the case.

It is well known that the dental industry is highly selective. Only the best and brightest are accepted into dental schools. This type of selectivity is good. Afterall, we only want those most capable of performing the job properly to be taking care of our teeth. However, for many years, dentistry has been an exclusive club in a different way that has nothing to do with what score one receives on dental school admission tests. Just a few decades ago, coming across an openly gay dental school student, dentist or dental profession was rare. This reflected the attitude of the public towards members of the LGBTQIA community at the time. 

Richard D. Bebermeyer, DDS, MBA and dental professor (University of Maryland and University of Texas), recalls practicing dentistry at a time when dental professionals needed to stay quiet about their identity in order to preserve their reputation. He describes the transformation he witnessed over time:

“In 1983, I took a position teaching general dentistry at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston (UTSD). I loved the diversity in Houston and at this school. During my years teaching here, I noticed changes within the school and in society at large. Most unfortunately, there was a case of a lesbian student in the 1990s who was harassed by three of her male classmates. In my opinion, there was very little done to support this woman or to discipline the men. This school had gay and lesbian leaders at the highest levels during the past three decades. However, these leaders remained in the closet and were not necessarily identified as LGBTQ by students or faculty members.  It was good to observe and participate in the changing culture as more women, LGBTQs and persons of color joined the faculty and student body at UTSD.  I believe this school now has one of the most diverse and inclusive cultures in the US.”

It is uplifting to learn about how our society became more accepting of diversity, thus enabling many talented individuals to not only join the dental profession but also to thrive in it without the fear of losing everything because of their identity. We look forward to seeing how the industry changes going forward. We are confident that dentistry will continue becoming more inclusive, embracing students and professionals from different backgrounds of all kinds.

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